Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday at Rocky's

Wow....I can hardly believe that it's been over two years since I posted on this site!

I've been putting out a weekly e-mail newsletter for almost three years. I try to keep it focused on local information that is related to local government and helps people know what is going on in their community. But I see a lot going on that I have opinions about and want to share with people.

Do we talk with each other enough? I know, I can't see you. We're not having a beer or glass of wine together. But there aren't enough hours in the day to break bread and clink glasses with all the amazing people I know.

So....the blog.....

Tonight I had a bite to eat and a few Michigan IPAs with old friends at Rocky's. We do this every first Friday of the month and the place is usually fairly empty when I'm there. I've heard from one of my adult children that it gets pretty busy after 10 p.m. but I'm usually in bed by then. But tonight the place was packed at 6:30 and it turned out it was full of employees and former employees of the G.R. Press. I know quite a few of them from my many years in local politics so I got an earful each time I walked by to refresh the contents of my beer glass.

This week's announcement of significant changes at the G.R. Press affected a lot of people. It may affect more of us than we realize. One conversation at Rocky's lamented the loss of accountability in local government if the press is no longer there to cover it. I think that's a legitimate concern, especially in Kent County.

My heart goes out to all those affected by the changes. I've grown to appreciate quite a number of G.R. Press reporters, photographers, etc. over the years. We're definitely in a new era. I hope that we'll be able to find a way to make it a better one!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jim Karsen

I learned, today, that Jim Karsen passed away from a stroke, on Wednesday.

Jim and his wife, Sue, were long-time residents of Heritage Hill, active leaders, and friends to many, including Pat and me. We just talked with Jim and Sue at a neighborhood party on Saturday and on Monday I received a contribution and endorsement from them for my campaign.

We will miss Jim. May God's peace be with Sue in this difficult time.

Jail Per Diem

Tonight's paper had a front page article about a press conference that was held, yesterday, by the mayors of the six cities in Kent County. Their cities are charged for each day ("per diem") that someone, who they arrested for violating one of their local ordinances, is housed in the Kent County Correctional Facility (jail). The mayors want the "per diem" fee eliminated. They say that the townships are not charged for housing people in the jail so the cities shouldn't be either. They say that the County is "double-dipping".

Kent County's position is that the cities do not have to jail violators of their local ordinances - they can simply cite them with an "appearance" ticket. (Costs for those who violate state laws are paid for by the State of Michigan.) The cities are the recipients of fines that are collected for violating their local laws but those fines are not passed through to the County to offset the costs of incarceration. The cities do not have to bear the expense of having their own jail, since they can use the county facility for a daily rate. The amount of the "per diem" is the total daily cost of housing a prisoner in the Correctional Facility, reduced by a formula that partially offsets the contributions of the cities to the Correctional Facility millage. The County contends that there is no "double-dipping".

I wonder who thinks that we will move closer to an agreement on this issue when we negotiate by press conference? Why are the sides not continuing to meet to negotiate a settlement that neither is extatic about but both can accept?

The Weekend Is Here!

Wow, this has been a busy week! Knocked on pretty much every good-voting door in two full precincts - that's a lot of calories burned! :-)

On Thursday I met with April Johnson of the Grand Rapids Press editorial board. We talked about my campaign, various County issues, and why I should be Commissioner instead of Paul Mayhue. The Press pretty much always endorses the incumbent, although they have endorsed Paul's opponents on numerous past occasions. I don't expect them to endorse me but I gave it my best shot.

Signs are going up this weekend. Some people have been asking why I waited so long to put them up. It's mostly because I think a lot of people really dislike the sign "litter" and because most people don't really pay attention to elections until the last week or so.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Last night, while campaigning door-to-door, I had extensive conversations with long-time Paris Avenue neighbors that I had not met before. They live on Paris but on the other side of Wealthy Street. It's interesting how a busy thoroughfare like Wealthy can create such a divide. When we moved to Heritage Hill 32 years ago, there was a similar effect that people talked about for Cherry Street. The "pioneers" lived "south of Cherry". Reminds me of the classic phrase about living "on the other side of the tracks". It's amazing how geographical features, or transportation routes, like streets, tracks and highways, can create social barriers!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Back to the Blog

Wow! Has it really been a month since I've posted here? It's been crazy busy trying to visit every good voting household in the district in only 8 weeks. This is at least my 9th election campaign and there have a been a number of "firsts" for me in the last month:

* Several long-time friends, who I assumed would stay out of the race on account of our years of friendship, are supporting my opponent. That hurts a lot.

* I've been endorsed by the G.R. Chamber of Commerce PAC - they rarely endorse Democrats and they've never endorsed me before.

* I met the most racist man I've ever encountered on the campaign trail. I didn't realize that there were still people like that out there and so open about it.

* I recently spent 7 hours knocking on doors in one day - the most I've ever done in one day. I was surprised at how many people were home in the morning and early afternoon. It was a very productive day!

I'll try to post a little more often, although I wonder if anyone is reading....

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I attended the County Finance and Fiscal Resources Committee meeting this morning. I learned that Kent County lost over $4.6 million in tax revenues, in 2007, that were captured or abated by local units of government for things like DDAs, Brownfields, TIFAs, Enterprise Zones and Renaissance Zones. Grand Rapids captured the most - $1.7 million. Wyoming was next with $803,000.